27th April 2018
In our latest contractor country guide, we home in on Belgium. While many tourists might visit the destination for its beer and chocolate, professional contractors will find a number of business delights to also entice them to the country.
With the Deputy Prime Minister Kris Peeters claiming that Belgium is driven by innovation, contractors can certainly benefit from the business growth that the country is seeing across multiple sectors.
In particular, the destination is a real hotspot for the pharmaceutical industry. Not only do yearly figures indicate continuous growth, but the country is also subject to extensive R&D funding, with €2.89 billion invested in 2016 alone. With this investment, of course, comes a growing demand for specialist pharma skills.
Financial services and data protection & cyber security professionals will also find there is high demand for their skills as the country remains a destination of interest to a number of banks seeking to expand in Europe.
Contracting in Belgium: the legal bit
There are a number of considerations to be aware of when making a move to the country for work, though. In the first instance, there are three separate regions – Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels – where the domestic language can be either Flemish, German or French.
Employment law requirements are, in general, straightforward. However, there are a few rules to be acutely aware of, in particular the Limosa Declaration. Under this regulation, an employer sending an employee to Belgium and self-employed professionals working in the country are required to fill out the Declaration before work begins. Failure to comply with this could see the employer, the end client and the individual facing fines and criminal charges. These penalties can be extremely damaging, with charges reaching up to 300,000 euros.
If entering the country as a self-employed professional, you will also be subject to strict scrutiny and will need to meet specific criteria in order to be cleared to work here. For example, you must either have a University degree to register your self-employed status, or gain a ‘certificate of experience’ which demonstrates your educational or professional background, or sit an ‘equivalency’exam on Belgian regulations and legislation. Also, please note that you cannot stay out of the Belgian tax and social security system by using a ‘one man’, PSC, limited company, this is illegal!
Be prepared for change
As we’ve seen across the board, employment and tax regulations are subject to constant change as authorities worldwide seek to clampdown on fraudulent behaviour. And while we don’t wish to continue repeating ourselves, Brexit will also likely have an impact on contractor visa requirements in the near future.
For contract professionals, staying ahead of legislative changes and ensuring you abide by local laws can be hugely challenging. If you’re seeking contract work overseas and want to make sure you are compliant in your chosen destination, our expert staff are on hand to help. Contact us today:
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